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How to build an innovation framework that gets results

4 min read

Innovation is an exciting word – but what does it mean when we speak about it for food and beverage processing?

Perhaps it’s a new product, process or idea. Or maybe it’s fine-tuning something you already do. One thing is clear – you need a way to move the innovation forward, or it’s impossible to accomplish anything meaningful.

FCC Experience Designer Chelsea Rink is often tasked with taking an idea and turning it into a successful application. She always considers these two questions: “What is this idea solving and for whom?”

No matter your innovation goals, being clear about your consumer’s needs during the planning phase is essential for success.

“The coolest, niftiest idea still has to have value for a particular end-user,” Rink says. “We forget to focus on who that consumer is.”

No matter your innovation goals, being clear about your consumer’s needs during the planning phase is essential for success. But creating a diverse group for feedback — whether they’re trusted advisers for thoughts on the idea, staff to model the innovation on the production line or taste-testers for the new product — you’ll gain insights more rapidly compared to doing any exercise in a silo.

“Getting clear on who your consumer is, is going to be important in your assessment of whether it will be successful or not,” advises Rink. “You have to connect to the right people to get feedback and decide if it’s worth pursuing.”

Building the innovation framework

One of the first steps in innovation is building a framework — or a strategic approach — which will evaluate all your business problems and decisions.

One way to build an innovation framework is through human-centered design. This is where an idea or several ideas are presented to an internal team or consumer for feedback. Many more ideas and clarity can come out during this session, but inevitably a group will settle for a few top performers, and those ideas can develop further.

“We encourage you to test your ideas with the consumer,” Rink says. It’s human nature to assume we think like a consumer, but that might not always be true. “When you collect feedback, they may say, ‘cool idea, but I’d never use that in this way.’ You want to learn fast to pivot or keep going.”

Next steps

Whether you’re focused on one great idea or have dozens of ideas waiting to be brought to life, here are a couple of tools that can help develop the next steps of your framework.

How-Wow-Now Matrix

The How-Wow-Now model is useful when you have several ideas and aren’t sure where to start. This method uses a matrix with one axis labelled “effort” and the other “creativity.” You can also use other matrixes depending on prioritizing concepts or tactics – perhaps “effort versus value” or “urgency versus importance” work better for you. Place your ideas in the quadrant that makes the most sense.

Business Model Canvas

By considering how your idea works with other elements of your business, you can get a sense of whether implementing the idea may be the next best step for your food processing business. A business model canvas looks at consumer relationships, revenue streams and key partners. Define these, then see where your idea fits and refine the idea, if needed, to fit with your already-established business.

A business model canvas can vary depending on which topics you want to examine closely. Consider using some of these to help determine how your innovative idea will fit into your current food or beverage processing business.

  • Key partners: Note who would have critical roles to get your product to market

  • Key activities: List how it provides value to your customers

  • Value proposition: Make a list of what it solves for customers

  • Key resources: List what needs to happen in your business to meet your value proposition

  • Channels: List ways you would get it to customers

  • Consumer segments: Note consumer groups

  • Cost structure: What major costs will it bring?

  • Revenue streams: Make a list of the ways it will bring in cash from your value proposition

It’s a thought-provoking exercise that pays off for any business owner.

“It is a fast, simple and handy way to visually illustrate the most important information and elements to your business,” she says. When you are ready to pull your team together, consider this one-week approach to kickstart the innovation.

Innovation resources

To learn more about bringing innovation to your business, or moving ideas to reality, check out these resources:

Customer feedback ideas

Article by: Trevor Bacque

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